Canada-Cuba Relations Poised for Progress under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

By John M. Kirk*

After a decade of ignoring Cuba under the government led by Stephen Harper, Canada is on the cusp of an era of a significant improvement in bilateral relations with the island.  Many constants supporting this longstanding relationship remain: Canada, along with Mexico, was the only country in the Western Hemisphere not to break relations with revolutionary Cuba in 1962; Pierre Trudeau was the first leader of a NATO country to visit Cuba (1976) and developed a strong friendship with Fidel Castro (who was an honorary pall-bearer at his funeral); Canadians make up the largest tourist group (1.3 million a year) there; and the largest single foreign investor in Cuba is the Canadian firm Sherritt International.

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Canada commits $57-million to support peace process in Colombia

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jul. 04, 2016 7:35PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Jul. 04, 2016 8:39PM EDT
Canada is committing nearly $60-million to help support the implementation of Colombia’s peace process after the government and the country’s largest rebel group recently agreed to a historic ceasefire to end one of the world’s longest-running wars.
Although International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says Canada supports the peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, she sidestepped endorsing the guerrilla group’s eventual formation of a political party. As a part of the final deal, FARC will demobilize and form a left-wing political party after the peace process is complete
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How a Guatemalan murder trial could forever change Canadian overseas mining

By MARINA JIMENEZForeign Affairs Writer, Mon., June 20, 2016
The murder trial at the centre of a legal battle involving Toronto-based HudBay offers a glimpse of why Ontario courts took the landmark step of hearing a Guatemalan dispute in Canada.
EL ESTOR, GUATEMALA—The murder trial of Mynor Padilla, a former security guard for a mine owned by a then subsidiary of HudBay Minerals Inc., provides a fascinating glimpse into Guatemala’s problematic justice system.
Padilla, 52, is charged with killing Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, and shooting German Chub, a bystander, during a protest on contested land at Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, in eastern Guatemala, on Sept 27, 2009. 
These alleged crimes are also at the centre of a series of landmark lawsuits in Ontario Superior Court, where HudBay, a Toronto-based company, faces three negligence claims, launched by Ich, Chub and 12 other Q’eqchi’.
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Canada still thinks Mexico belongs on its ‘safe country’ list for refugees

by mexicoinstitute
06/20/16 Vice News
As the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide reaches a record 65 million, debate continues over whether asylum seekers — especially LGBT people — from countries deemed to be safe, should be granted refugee status abroad.
Several countries in Europe have compiled "safe country of origin" lists, whereby anyone from those countries will likely to be sent home if they try to seek asylum in another country.
In North America, Canada has been relying heavily since 2013 on its safe country list to guide who should be blocked from obtaining refuge, a process the government argues is meant to ensure "genuine" refugees are resettled. And now, Canada is facing fresh criticisms for listing Mexico among its 42 "safe" nations, especially as the LGBT community there and people living with HIV continue to face rampant violence and discrimination
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Canada in the Hemisphere Perspective Paper

APRIL 24, 2015 BY CCA ADMIN, Pacific Alliance whitepaper, Barbara Kotschwar, Research Fellow – Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC
What does the Pacific Alliance mean for Canadian Trade and Investment?
Spanish news on the launch of CCA Perspective Paper on the Pacific Alliance, click here for the article on Notimex
Americas Business Dialogue August Newsletter focused on the Pacific Alliance highlights the CCA Perspective Paper on the Pacific Alliance to view the newsletter click here
Download the paper: CCA_Perspective Paper_Pacific Alliance 2015
Ms. Kotschwar’s research focuses on trade, investment and regional integration. She was previously Chief of the Foreign Trade Information Systems at the Organization of American States and Senior Trade Specialist during the FTAA negotiations. Barbara has advised Latin American and Caribbean governments on trade-related issues.
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How many more must die in Honduras?

Environmentalists’ deaths should be wake-up call to investor countries like Canada.
Amnesty International Photo
Slain Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, left. 
Alex Neve
Published: Wednesday, 03/30/2016 12:00 am EDT
Last Updated: Tuesday, 04/05/2016 8:47 pm EDT


There is a deadly crisis in Honduras, the tiny but resource-rich Central American country with which Canada is linked via a free trade agreement negotiated in the violence-filled aftermath of a coup d’état.

Why is Ottawa dragging its heels on the Mexican visa?

Mexico’s former Ambassador to Canada, Francisco Suárez Dávila, says Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will likely refuse to attend Justin Trudeau’s proposed North American Leaders' Summit this summer unless the visa requirement on Mexico is revoked — a promise Trudeau and members of his cabinet have reiterated several times since forming government.

“I find it very difficult to concede that President Peña will come to Canada if he has to subject himself to the visa requirement,” Suárez said in an interview from Mexico City, where he retired following the end of his Canadian post in December. “It's a pity because we really could be in the beginning of a golden age of a really grand relationship.”

Guatemalan Women’s Claims Put Focus on Canadian Firms’ Conduct Abroad

Overseas subsidiaries have long acted as a shield for extractive companies, but cases describing negligence and rape could lead to new scrutiny.
LOTE OCHO, Guatemala — Her husband was away in the fields, she said, when the truckloads of soldiers, police officers and mining security officials arrived. A half-dozen armed men swarmed into her one-room house, blocking her exit and helping themselves to the meal she had made for her children.
For a long time, the woman, Margarita Caal Caal, did not talk about what happened next that afternoon. None of the women in this tiny village high in the hills of eastern Guatemala did, not even to each other. But that day, Mrs. Caal said, the men who had come to evict her from land they said belonged to a Canadian mining company also took turns raping her. After that, they dragged her from her home and set it ablaze.
“The fear is not over,” she said recently, staring down at her hands while her daughter served coffee to visitors. “I still fear, all the time.”
Mrs. Caal has taken her case to the courts, but not in Guatemala, where Mayan villagers like her, illiterate and living in isolated areas, have had little legal success. She has filed in Canada, where her negligence suit, Caal v. Hudbay Mineral Inc., has sent shivers through the vast Canadian mining, oil and gas industry. More than 50 percent of the world’s publicly listed exploration and mining companies had headquarters in Canada in 2013, according to government statistics. Those 1,500 companies had an interest in some 8,000 properties in more than 100 countries around the world.

Canada to Resolve Visa Impasse With Mexico

Business leaders in both countries have opposed current restrictions
Jan. 29, 2016 6:24 p.m. ET
OTTAWA—Canada’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion said Friday a long-standing dispute with Mexico over visa restrictions would be resolved shortly.
Mr. Dion made the remarks at a news conference following a meeting in Quebec City with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu.

Indigenous Rights Under Attack: Canadian economic and political interests over human rights in Honduras

Canadian Dimension
No one defending their land and territory in Honduras is safe. That was the message that rang loud and clear after Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home on March 3. Cáceres, an Indigenous Lenca woman, mother and grandmother was founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and worked tirelessly to protect communities at risk of eviction and relocation because of large scale projects that put their lives and livelihoods at risk. Despite being internationally recognized, most recently after winning the 2015 Goldman Prize, Berta was killed in her home by unknown gunmen. Her Mexican friend and colleague, Gustavo Castro, founder and director of Chiapas-based Otros Mundos (Other Worlds/Friends of the Earth Mexico), was also wounded in the attack. At the time of her murder, Berta was the beneficiary of precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights - an order with which the Honduran State did not comply.

Another Indigenous Leader Killed in Honduras, Canadian Organizations say Enough is Enough

(Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa) Today, fifty Canadian organizations and networks sent a letter calling on the Canadian Government to pressure Honduran authorities and review Canadian foreign policy after another member of Berta Cáceres’ organization was murdered this week.
On Tuesday, Nelson Noé García Laínez from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered in the community of Río Chiquito. The Indigenous leader was on his way home from helping a group of families that government security forces had just violently evicted when he was shot dead in the face by two unknown gunmen.   

New CEO David Garofalo sets realistic course for Goldcorp

David Garofalo has a graph that should appall any precious metals aficionado.
It shows how nine major gold producers’ share prices have fared over the past decade. Only one of those stocks – that of Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. – actually achieved a lasting gain during the 10-year period.
All the other big global gold miners in the graph saw their share prices decline between 2005 and 2015. The sweeping, near-universal losses for investors in the sector – despite a gold price that shot upward over the time span – offer evidence of a massive case of value destruction.

Blood flows where Canadian capital goes

By: Tyler Shipley Posted: 03/6/2016 3:00 AM
Honduran indigenous leader and activist Berta Cáceres was slain last Thursday.  In the early hours of Thursday morning, assassins broke into the home of an indigenous Lenca community leader in western Honduras and killed her.  Berta Cáceres was 47 years old and was one of the best-known and most respected leaders in Honduras. Her life had been threatened countless times, she had been harassed by the national police, and she had been physically attacked on several occasions. Now, she has paid the ultimate price for opposing a military dictatorship that isn’t afraid of international censure.  The current government of Honduras — the product of a 2009 military coup — has singled out Canada as one of its closest friends. Canada worked hard in the aftermath of the coup to help the new regime rebuild its reputation, and Canada has consistently downplayed the government’s role in the human rights crisis in Honduras that has made it the most dangerous country — with the highest homicide rate — in the world.  Why would we do this? Isn’t this contrary to Canadian values?

Glacial progress on policing miners

The York University associate professor monitors the behaviour of Canadian mining companies in Latin America. The new Liberal government is said to plan no changes to the previous government's much-criticized Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor. Imani has been quoted as saying there is “really no point” to the office.

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Feds won’t change Harper-era mining ethics office

Peter Mazereeuw
The Trudeau government won’t be making changes to the role of a controversial corporate social responsibility counsellor for the mining sector, according to a government spokesperson.
The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor has been criticized in the past by advocates for tougher action by Canada on human rights abusesconnected to Canadian-owned mines abroad. 
The office, created by the Conservative government in 2009, was only able to produce reports on five disputes related to corporate social responsibility that were investigated during the four-year tenure of the first counsellor, Marketa Evans, who resigned from the role in 2013. As well, the mining companies involved in three of those disputes refused to take part in the full review process, according to reports published by the office. 



Engagement and Pragmatism: Towards an Enduring Canadian Strategy in Latin America

by Eric Miller
4 February 2016 – Ottawa, ON – The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute released a report today, “Engagement and Pragmatism: Towards an Enduring Canadian Strategy in Latin America”.

This new paper argues that in a time of renewal of Canadian foreign policy, there is a great opportunity for Canada to strengthen its engagement in Latin America, and in doing so revitalize relations in North America as well.

Stéphane Dion to host Mexican, U.S. counterparts


Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion will host his U.S. and Mexican counterparts for a day of discussions Friday in what the Liberal government hopes will be a precursor to the first Three Amigos leaders’ summit in Canada in nearly a decade. 

The environment will officially top the agenda when Dion meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu in Quebec City. That includes devising a North American approach to climate change, and discussing how to turn the continent into a hub for clean energy.

North American foreign ministers adopt new tone ahead of Quebec City meeting

James Fitz-Morris, CBC News
When the foreign ministers of North America last met, they all agreed on the military mission against ISIS, sang the praises of a yet-to-be-finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership and held out some hope for the Keystone XL pipeline.
What a difference a year makes. 
The foreign ministers meet today in Quebec City, but last year's federal election in Canada has changed the dynamic when it comes to the fight against ISIS and the TPP.